While most professional sports executives tend to do their work behind the scenes, Jerry Jones plays by his own rules. Ever since he took over the Dallas Cowboys in 1989, the owner and general manager has put himself front and center; like it or not, he’ll find his way in front of a camera or microphone at every opportunity.
Despite his insistence on getting involved in football operations, Jerry isn’t the only member of the Jones clan working for the Dallas Cowboys. In fact, he’s turned the franchise into an $8.5 million family affair.
Jerry Jones’ life before buying the Dallas Cowboys
These days, it’s impossible to associate Jerry Jones with any team other than the Dallas Cowboys. His life, however, had plenty of twists and turns before he settled into NFL ownership.
Jones played football growing up and, when it came time for college, he headed to the University of Arkansas. While he might not seem like an intimidating physical force today, Jerry joined the football team and found a home on the Razorbacks’ offensive line; he eventually became a co-captain of the squad and helped them win the 1964 national title.
After college, however, Jones tried his hand at business rather than football. With the help of the Teamsters Union, he opened several Shakey’s Pizza restaurants; that investment wouldn’t turn a profit. He also attempted to buy the San Diego Chargers but wasn’t able to muster up enough money. Jerry would eventually find a home at Modern Security Life Insurance, where his father also worked.
Jerry Jones didn’t become famous by working in the insurance industry, though. In the 1970s, he founded Jones Oil and Land Lease and wildcatting; he struck black gold, made a fortune, and, in 1989, purchased the Dallas Cowboys.
Turning a failing franchise into a billion-dollar business
When Jerry Jones bought the Dallas Cowboys, the franchise was bleeding money; according to the Midland Reporter-Telegram, the club was losing $1 million each month. While things haven’t been perfect in Big D, the financials are in a much different state.
After taking over the Cowboys, Jones immediately made waves by firing Tom Landry and replacing him with Jimmy Johnson. While the move took some time to pay off, everything eventually clicked; with Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin at his disposal, the new head coach guided the club to three Super Bowls in the 1990s.
Although the on-field results have dropped off—due, at least partially, to Jerry Jones’ meddling in football operations—the Cowboys have grown into a financial juggernaut. According to Forbes’ franchise valuations, the club is worth an estimated $5 billion; Forbes also pegs Jones’ personal net worth at $8.1 billion, thanks in large part to the Cowboys.
Jerry Jones has turned the Dallas Cowboys into a family affair
While Jerry Jones might be an incredibly hands-on owner, he isn’t the only Jones in the Dallas Cowboys front office. All three of his children, Stephen, Jerry Jr., and Charlotte, also work for the team.
Stephen is the most widely known of the three, due to his involvement in football operations. The Cowboy’s official website lists his title as “chief operating officer/executive vice president/director of player personnel” and, like his father, he has no problem speaking with the media.
Jerry Jones Jr. also serves as an executive vice president in addition to his role as the club’s chief sales and marketing officer. The club’s website also states that he “was instrumental in the design and planning of AT&T Stadium … as well as the team’s new state-of-the-art training complex.”
Charlotte Jones is another Cowboys executive and the team’s chief brand officer. According to her official team biography, she also is the president of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and has been the chairman of the NFL Foundation since 2012.
“My mom and dad stressed the importance of family,” Charlotte told the Dallas Morning News in 2017. “It was family first. At dance recitals and school events, my parents were always there. They gave us the gift of their presence.” Even as the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones still seems to be living up to that standard.